William Symington travelled from his home in Dumfries, Scotland and settled in Market Harborough in 1827. A young businessman and inventor, he founded a company selling tea, coffee and groceries, in the streets around St Dionysius’s church. His first shop was a grocery in Adam and Eve Street and later the company opened a coffee roasting mill in Little Bowden.
In 1852, William invented dried pea flour that could be used for making soups and broths just by adding boiling water. It was enormously popular across the country and also during the Crimean War (1853 -1856) as soldiers had to fight and feed themselves in freezing conditions.
Explorers also recognised the benefits of Symington’s dried foods and in 1901 the company supplied pea flour to Captain Scott’s Discovery Antarctic Expedition. Scott even wrote in his diary: ‘A lot can be done with the addition of a little boiled pea meal’ One of Scott’s food stores was actually discovered fifty years later and incredibly the supplies of Symington’s pea flour was found to be edible!
As well as pea flour, the company expanded the business to make soups, table creams, tea bags and other dried food, many of which you can see in Harborough Museum in the Heritage Gallery cases. Come and visit and see which is your favourite flavour!